Newfoundland and Labrador folklorist Dale Jarvis has produced a book documenting a tradition that is very near and dear to my heart with his launch of “Any Mummers ‘lowed In?”
I first met Dale Jarvis in the summer of 2001 as a participant of Medquest. One of the activities on our list was the Haunted Hike http://www.hauntedhike.com/. These hikes take place between June and September and tell local tales and ghost stories that have quite an impact. It was actually where I met my friend, Amanda who celebrates today. Happy Birthday!
I’ve always had an interest in the concept of mummering or jannying since a very young age. As a young child, I would go door to door in disguise at Christmastime. This continued through the teenage and even today’s adult years. My major paper in Folklore 1000 was on Christmas Mummering and in 2010 my friend Sabrina and I co-founded the first ever Mummer’s Walk in the Straits at Flower’s Cove. It has continued each year at Anchor Point (2011), Savage Cove (2012) and Green Island Cove (2013). We have seen a revival in the region of mummering with more people going door to door, mummer’s dances, mummer crafts, memorabilia and other activities.
It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Dale Jarvis in January of this year, as he was compiling stories, photos and information about mummering in preparation for his book. “Any Mummers ‘lowed in?” was officially launched on October 15th. It is amazing to see this work in printed form, as I received a copy as gift from my friend Krista for my birthday on the 23rd. I have only had the opportunity to read the first chapter, but have skimmed the book, peering at the variety of images, songs and took an interest in the section of the hobby horse. I look forward to reading it in its entirety.
My excitement was greatly peaked when I turned to page 4. I snapped a photo and sent a text to my cousin and said, “remember this?”. We were tiny mummers visiting the neighbours. I believe we told them we were from Sandy Cove or Green Island Brook depending on the house. Likely my mother had already called in advance letting them know we were on our way. The wonderful memories of growing up in Green Island Cove!
Throughout the book are a number of images of mummers of all ages over the years, including several from the Great Northern Peninsula that include our Mummer Walks and Dances.
I encourage people to get a copy of this wonderful book, just in time for the holidays! The book is a masterfully done in a way that preserves, shows an evolution of mummering and shares our local knowledge and culture of these centuries old tradition. If you would like to get a copy you can do so direct from Chapters/Indigo or Flanker Press on-line or purchase at many bookstores. Visit http://dalejarvis.blogspot.ca/ for more information about the author, book, up-coming signings and how to purchase.
One thing I’ve come to learn more recently from our interview is Dale Jarvis certainly is a mummering enthusiast, a hobby horse maker and a founding member of the 2009 Mummers Festival in St. John’s. We need others to share in our interest and encourage more active mummering. It truly is a tradition that has been around for as long as anyone in our rural outports can remember. This year I would like to announce that our 5th Annual Mummer’s Walk will be on December 28th at Sandy Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North
The Mummer’s Walk was initially held in Flower’s Cove on December 29th, 2010. This event was created from dialogue between local Anchor Point native Sabrina Gaulton and I to encourage locals to continue our valued traditions. It was always a goal that this would lead to an annual event and also include a mummer’s dance and a night of mummer in each community.
The Flower’s Cove event was well received and much fun. It included a walk, some dancing at the Lion’s Club and a few treats of hot chocolate, purity syrup and some jam jams. The tradition continued to Anchor Point in 2011, where my friends from Switzerland and Germany also got to participate in our rural tradition. It was a windy day, but still kids and adults alike dressed up and enjoyed the event. In 2012, the festivities were held at Savage Cove, which drew more than 40 mummer’s, nearly doubling past events. Also, there was a Mummer’s Dance held too!
This year we are excited to announce the annual event will take place at the Green Island Cove Lion’s Club on 29th of December at 2:30 PM. Young and old are encouraged from all communities to come out and show your traditional spirit to join the merry band of mummers.
Come big ones, come small ones, come tall ones and thin, boys dressed as women and girls dressed as men…
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
The Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive held on December 29, 2010 at the Flower’s Cove Lions Centre is touted as a big success. The event started at 2:00 PM with mummers finding their way to the centre, dropping off food items for the Straits Food Sharing Association and ready to have fun.
A total of 20 people shared in the traditional spirit by taking time out of their day to partake in this regional community economic development (CED) activity by dressing up. The mummers along with many citizens showed their kindness by donating to their local food bank, which became the recipient of many staple items consisting of flour, sugar, cereals, can foods and other necessities. This comes at a time when food banks face severe shortages and are greatly needed.
Organizer’s Christopher Mitchelmore, Emerging Leaders co-Chair (Canadian Community Economic Development Network or cCEDnet) and cCEDnet Intern, Sabrina Gaultan decided it was well overdue to instill greater uptake, creating a rural revival of this once flourishing Christmastime tradition and support a worthwhile local cause. Christopher had noted that a community event around a revival of mummering should take place during the holidays. Some discussion led to a number of ideas, but with a very short time frame it was agreed to start with a small activity and enable it to grow. This led Ms. Gaultan to become very busy, as she created a visually appealing poster, handled necessary logistics by contacting local food sharing association, RCMP detachment and Lion’s Centre. In a short timeframe the marketing, location and partnerships were created. Rural regions can improve by becoming more organized. As residents, let us focus on unique traditions and plan more activities and events in our regions for all of us to enjoy. It all starts with an idea!
Local community leaders, volunteers and participants were discussing the potential for next year’s walk. The excitement was there to better promote and continue the Mummer’s Walk. It is very positive to see this type of outcome. Maybe 2011 will bring forth a Mummer’s Ball? There is all sorts of potential for this tradition to be revived. With the right partnerships formed our sense of community with continue to grow and prosper. I commend all those who actively participated, came to watch, donated food items, supported and helped in any way build on the spirit of our community and made this event a success! We look forward to what this year’s event will bring. Happy New Year to All!